Feature

Russia's Medvedev takes the stage

Will the G8 summit reveal his intentions?

What happenedRussian President Dmitri Medvedev made his international debut at the G8 summit in Japan, holding his first meeting with President Bush and other world leaders. Bush, at his last G8 summit, and Medvedev said they had agreed on issues including the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, but not over the proposed U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. (International Herald Tribune)

What the commentators saidThe world is watching Medvedev closely in his international debut, said the London Guardian in an editorial. But his countrymen are watching even closer. Many of them believe Vladimir Putin “put Russia back on the map as a world power,” and they want his successor to “show that he is just as tough and independent.”

Bush had a lot at stake when he met with Medvedev, too, said Gordon G. Change in Commentary’s Contentions blog. If Bush, in the limited time remaining in his presidency, wants to do something about one of his biggest priorities—ending the Iranian nuclear threat—his only hope “without the use of force is to obtain Russia’s cooperation.”

The conventional wisdom is that Medvedev is merely Putin’s puppet, said Henry Kissinger in The Washington Post, but the “emerging power structure” is more complex. It’s early to guess where Russia goes from here, but “the last Russian election marks a transition from a phase of consolidation” under Putin “to a period of modernization” under his hand-picked successor.

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